Every time I leave the house to go to a competition whether it be in Australia or Internationally that Willie Nelson song pops into my head “On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again” and further on in the song “Goin’ places that I’ve never been, Seein’ things that I may never see again”. This time it really hits home as we head to South Africa for the last World Cup of the year, I never ever thought I would ever get to this country! Now usually I’m chomping at the bit to “Get on the road again”, but I must admit that this time I am tired. I am excited to be going but tired. It has been a long year with what seems like lots of travelling, not that I don’t enjoy it, but I am really looking forward to a couple of weeks of down time.
The Australian Para Cycling Team will be racing in Pietermaritzburg, it is an important event as it will give us some much needed points towards Rio for next year. I am looking forward to racing because we have one of the biggest fields of T2 Women that we have ever had at an international competition and I also get a chance to race Jill, from the USA again and welcome back Marie-Eve from Canada, who has been injured and ill. The other regulars will be there, but also new blood with another American woman, so it is really good to see the category building.
The trip to our accommodation at the Emoyeni Country Lodge at Cato Ridge in South Africa took almost 36 hours. That was door to door with all team members flying from their respective states to Dubai, waiting for 5 hours in the airport there, then another 8 hour flight to Durban. We then jumped into vehicles and drove for an hour to get here. Unfortunately it was dark by the time we arrived, so didn’t get much of a chance to see where we were going, but the owners Brenda and Bryan Eaton were very welcoming as well as their staff, with an amazing dinner waiting for us we all tucked into the local cuisine! Must say there wasn’t one plate that wasn’t completely cleaned off. But after all the travel and dinner I was quite happy to have a shower and hit my bed!
This morning was amazing with bright sunshine, fairly warm weather and an incredible breakfast waiting for us. It was then time to put all the bikes, trikes and hand cycles together to then have a ride this afternoon to blow out the travel in our legs.
I must say it was an interesting ride not only for us but also for the locals who were fascinated seeing a group of Aussie cyclists riding around. At one point I had kids on the side of the road giving me high fives, we had lots of stares and a couple of cars that went by honking and waving, but on the other side I had someone throw a rock at me which luckily missed! It was an interesting recovery ride!
As I was riding and looking around, taking in where I was actually riding, I had to shake my head because it seemed so surreal to think that I was actually in South Africa. I will enjoy the next 9 days and soak up all this culture has to offer!